Rembert Weakland, in first ever video testimony, details sex abuse fraud by archdiocese
In response to recent archdiocesan claims, SNAP releasing DVD of court deposition taken in June, 2008
Church officials argue archdiocese won’t get a “fair trial” in fraud cases because “key players” in cover up are dead
However, Weakland, very much alive, tells of 25 years of sex crimes by priests and concealment from parishes
Leaders of SNAP, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, will screen, discuss and release to the public an approximately 15 minute DVD containing video taped testimony of former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland taken during a nine hour court deposition this summer by Attorney Jeffery Anderson. SNAP urged the release of the deposition in response to published claims by the archdiocese this week that because “key players” in the sex abuse cover ups are dead, church officials are not going to get a “fair trial” in the fraud cases recently filed against the archdiocese by childhood rape victims of four Milwaukee priests.
This is the first time that Weakland has answered questions under oath concerning his nearly 25 year involvement with dozens of priest sex offenders under his supervision while archbishop from 1977 to 2002. Weakland resigned in 2002 after it was learned that had paid a half a million dollars in hush money to a man who says Weakland sexually abused him as an adult. Weakland denies the abuse and calls the sexual relationship “inappropriate.”
The Healing Center, 611 W. National Avenue - 4th Floor (parking also available behind the building)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 11:00 a.m.
Survivors of childhood sexual molestation by Milwaukee clergy who are members of SNAP, including its long time Midwest Director, accompanied by the Wisconsin and Milwaukee Directors.
In 2007, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that victims could sue bishops and church officials for fraud after a twelve year, 1st amendment ban on civil claims against state religious leaders and supervisors who covered up for sexually abusive clergy.
Although fraud is challenging to prove and only permits a small percentage of Wisconsin victims to file claims, nine childhood victims of four Milwaukee priests have met the legal guidelines for fraud claims and for the first time in over a decade, sexual abuse cases are proceeding against bishops and church leaders in the Milwaukee archdiocese.
The current cases involve some of the most notorious, career pedophile priests from the archdiocese: Frs. Franklyn Becker, Douglas MacArthur, Siegfried Widera, and Bruce Murphy. Murphy, who ran a boarding school for deaf children, is deceased, as is Widera, who jumped to his death in 2004 as federal authorities were about to arrest him. Becker lives in Mayville, Wisconsin and MacArthur was convicted of child sex assault this summer in Juneau County.
During nearly the entire time that these four priests were assaulting children they were under the direct supervision of Archbishop Rembert Weakland. At least 60 diocesan and religious order clergy have been acknowledged by church authorities to have assaulted children and minors over the past three decades, most of them perpetrated their crimes while Weakland was archbishop from 1977 to 2002. Weakland himself resigned from his position in the spring of 2002 when it was learned that in 1999 he had paid a former seminarian nearly $500,000 in a hush money settlement for what Weakland called an “inappropriate relationship”.
For two days this June, Weakland testified under oath for the first time as to his knowledge of sexually abusive priests. He describes repeatedly and in detail how he and archdiocesan officials did not report criminal activity against children by priests to the police or civil authorities, concealed from parishes and the public their knowledge of clergy child molesters and, without giving notice, transferred known clergy offenders into new assignments, where they again raped and sexually abused children and minors.
SNAP is releasing the Weakland video to counter the Milwaukee Archdiocese’s misleading statements posted on their website this week, including claims that church officials cannot get a “fair trail” in the upcoming fraud cases because the “key people” involved in the abuse cover up are dead.
Weakland claims that the current Archbishop in charge of abusive priests and prevention policy, Timothy Dolan, has not once met with him to discuss his involvement or knowledge of current and former priest abusers that Dolan is now in charge of.
Dolan authorized 17 million dollars in settlements in 2006 for some ten California victims of Milwaukee priests who were transferred out of Wisconsin after they had been caught sexually abusing children. Over half those settlements were paid by insurance. This August, however, a Milwaukee County Judge ruled that the fraud cases against the archdiocese were not covered by insurance.
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee), 414.429.7259, cell
Mary Guentner, SNAP Wisconsin Director, 414.418.3191, cell
John Pilmaier, SNAP Milwaukee Director, 414.336.8575, cell
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director (St. Louis), 314.566.9790, cell
Attorney Jeff Anderson (St. Paul), 651.227.9990, office; 612.817.8665, cell
Attorney Mike Finnegan (St. Paul), 651.227.9990, office; 612.205.5531, cell
Video in its entirety is posted at this link.
See video below in 4 parts
All four parts of the video may be found at YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/snapnetwork2